Best Practices

triangleWant to make the most of Microsoft Tag and other supported mobile recognition technologies for your business and customers? Here are some guidelines to help you design and display Tag barcodes, QR Codes, and NFC sensors that are always scannable and provide an engaging mobile experience, regardless of the medium or location.

For more best practices and practical how-to advice, please see our Implementation Guide.

Top 5 Best Practices


Always include the white border or "quiet zone"

A Tag barcode must have its white border to ensure it remains readable, and you should test the Tag before using it to confirm it scans correctly. The width of the white space should be equal to the height of the bottom black bar, and not have any encroachment of lines, figures, or other artifacts. Similarly, QR Codes require a “quiet zone” around the margin. This space must have a minimum width or height equal to four modules (that is, the individual dark or light squares displayed within the barcode matrix).


Tell them how to get the Tag app

Include concise instructions for downloading the Microsoft Tag app. For example: “Get the free mobile app at http://gettag.mobi.” Remember, 2D barcodes and NFC technology may be unfamiliar to some consumers. We also recommend you clearly note what kind of content is behind the Tag or other digital footprint so consumers know what to expect when scanning. For instance, "Scan this Tag to view our instructional video" or “Tap this NFC touchpoint with your mobile phone to download an instantly redeemable coupon.”

Show them how

Optimize for mobile

Be sure that whatever experience your Tag barcode, QR Code, or NFC touchpoint provide is optimized for the mobile environment. Linking users to standard websites is likely to frustrate them since they are viewing the site on the small screen of their mobile phone.


Create a compelling experience

Add value that gives folks a good reason to scan or tap your digital markers: useful product information, engaging videos, exclusive deals, upgrades, a coupon, or other purchase incentive. And make it interactive have them enter a sweepstakes, click Like or Share, request a product sample, or some other call to action.


Extend your brand

One of the benefits of using Microsoft Tag over other 2D barcodes is the ease with which you can customize your Tag barcodes. Incorporate your company logo, pictures of your products, or other images right into the Tag itself.

General Guidelines

Educate yourself

Read the Tag Implementation Guide and Tag Manager Help for detailed, step-by-step instructions on creating effective standard and custom Tag barcodes as well as using Tag Manager to create other recognition technologies that will work for your mobile marketing campaigns.

Define Your Target Audience

Identify the audience you intend to reach, tailor your messaging appropriately, and field-test your Tag barcodes and other technologies with a cross-section of users. Knowing your audience also means connecting with them using the technologies that work best for them.

Some Android phones come enabled with NFC, so if your customer base favors those devices, using NFC may be a great way to engage with them.

If you’re unsure about those demographics, Microsoft Tag Manager gives you the flexibility to use more than one recognition technology in your marketing materials. By displaying a barcode in conjunction with an NFC sensor, you’re covered in two ways.

Walk the walk

Step through the entire real-world user experience to anticipate and solve problems proactively.

Remember: size matters

To ensure successful scans, adhere to the minimum display sizes for various types of Tag barcodes and QR Codes:

Tag Image Sizes
Tag Image Sizes

Testing, testing

Thoroughly test your Tag barcodes and QR Codes under the same conditions in which your audience will encounter them. Consider the following:

  • Distance: Will the Tag barcode or QR Code be close to users (a book cover) or distant (a billboard)?
  • Medium: What’s your print surface – glossy paper, T-shirt fabric, an LCD monitor, wine label?

Verify device compatibility

Test your Tags on a range of high-end and low-end devices from various manufacturers, with different operating systems and web browsers. See our list of supported devices.

Manage expectations

Explain clearly what will happen when users scan your Tag barcode, QR Code, or tap your NFC touchpoint. Will it open a mobile site? Play a video? Dial a phone number? Download information? And if so, what information?

Time is money

Make sure that videos, slide shows, and other media download quickly. Keeping your customers waiting for bulky downloads to buffer and play is a good way to lose them.

Be sensitive

Consider globalization and localization issues in your Tag campaigns, including social and political appropriateness and user comprehension. Among some cultures, for example, a temporary tattoo is not acceptable.

Safety first

Don’t place or promote Tag barcodes in situations where it would be unsafe to scan them. Billboards, for example, are okay for pedestrians and passengers, but a Tag on a billboard along a busy highway may present a hazardous distraction for drivers.

Location, location

Don’t place or promote mobile recognition markers in locations that will be difficult or impossible for users to scan reliably. A Tag barcode or QR Code on the side of a city bus, for example, will be tough to scan when it’s moving through traffic. And an NFC touchpoint must be placed where a user can physically touch it, or get within an inch or two, with his or her mobile device.

Tips and Tricks

Measure your success and adapt on the fly

Use Microsoft Tag’s built-in analytics and reporting tools and Scan Data API to monitor interactions with consumers and assess the performance of individual Tag barcodes and broader Tag categories. The same reporting tools also work with our other recognition technologies, so you can gauge the success of each component of your campaigns—even QR Codes that are scanned with third-party apps. Because you can revise the content behind a Tag barcode, QR Code and an NFC touchpoint at any time, you can easily update your promotions based on response.

Feel the heat

Get insight into where your message is working. The Heat Map report in Microsoft Tag Manager uses an interactive map to show you all the places your recognition technologies have been scanned or tapped. You can then focus your marketing on the high-response areas.

Heat Map

A clean, well-lighted place

In print displays, try to position your Tag barcodes, QR Codes, and NFC touchpoints (along with related content and Tag app download instructions) in an uncluttered area of the page, where they won’t be overlooked.

Stay out of the gutter

In magazine parlance, the “gutter” is the inside margin where facing pages meet. Avoid this area when designing the layout of your Tag barcodes, QR Codes, and NFC touchpoints in an advertisement or article, as the cramped space near the magazine binding can make them hard to scan.

Capture them where they are at

Add Real Time Location awareness to your mobile marketing to deliver actionable, engaging experiences based on the consumer’s location. Real-Time Location works with all the recognition technologies created with the Tag Manager and scanned with the Tag app —Tag barcodes, QR Codes, and NFC touchpoints.


Learn More: Flexible Tagging Options

Five types of Tags make it easy to deliver just the right message